Tag Archives: healing

Health and Happiness

Rose

I am pretty sure that, if you will be quite honest, you will admit that a good rousing sneeze, one that tears open your collar and throws your hair into your eyes, is really one of life’s sensational pleasures.
~ Robert Benchley, “Hiccoughing Makes Us Fat,” No Poems: or around the world backwards and sideways, 1932

Once you admit you are sick –no matter what the cause– the door opens to everyone’s favorite remedies for what ails you. While nursing through my recent illness, a friend sent along a link to “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins. The pharmacist offered much-appreciated suggestions for less-expensive alternatives to the over-the-counter item the doctor prescribed. In my head, I could hear my mother’s voice saying “Chicken soup — with cracker dumplings!”

Perhaps one of my favorite excursions into old magazines are the advertisements for medicines and healing techniques. Dr. Rose, in the photo above, practiced herbal medicine and had no love for the medical professionals of his day. The “Not My Patient” sign came out every time a funeral procession passed his business.

What we know of Dr. Rose is rather slim. He arrived in Dayton around 1857, and he died there on May 26, 1894, at the age of 86. Widowed for the last eight years of his life, and blind the last six months, Dr. Rose was considered a recluse and an eccentric. It was said his medical advice built on that of Ben Franklin: “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” However, he often prescribed his own concoction sold as “Strong Wine of Life”. At the time of his death, the newspaper headline touted, “Could Not Cure Himself.”

I wonder sometimes, especially as I choke down several antibiotics, carrefully followed two hours later by probiotics to counter them, about what constitutes health and happiness. Is healthy the end point or the beginning? Can you have one without the other? Big questions, brought on I’m sure in part by my latest reading trend of end of life stories and stories about endings.

What do you think ~ what makes you healthy and happy?

[This post is #8 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please click on the button on the right side of the page for more information about the challenge or to locate others participating — there are more than 1600!]

Previous A-to-Z posts:
2012: Homage to my Hips
2011: Helpful Tips for Capturing Family Stories

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Gardening

IMG_1380

We have descended into the garden and caught three hundred slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike. ~ Evelyn Underhill, Letters

Growing up on a farm, I suspect, predisposes one either to love or to hate playing in the dirt. I am a lover of dirt. Playing in the dirt was a childhood regularity, and I’m grateful for parents who encouraged and supported getting mud-luscious. My mother, although not fond of them, never squealed when I brought home the stray garter snake or crawdaddy. My father, the farmer, probably had a permanent layer of dirt on him.

But the smell of it, especially newly turned or just after a rainstorm. And the feel of it, moist not wet, crumbly but not dry. Black sand beaches of a different sort.

Every now and again that urge to play in the dirt takes hold and I attempt to garden. In most recent years, that has been confined to pots on a patio, such as my efforts from last year in the picture above. This year, for the first time in probably 15 years, I will be planting a real garden.

No big expanse of land, mind you, but a little square of earth in which I may grow what I please and be pleased with what I grow. My employer offers staff space in their community garden, and I managed to score half a plot to myself. I’m already late to the game, thanks to my fun weekend, and I’m still plotting what to grow and when to plant in our new climate. Last time I gardened was in the Midwest, so learning what will work here in Virginia is a process.

But I’m excited, looking forward to dirt under my nails and the tender talking to leaves and shoots as they punch through the dirt and reach for the blue sky above.

So, how does your garden grow?

[This post is #7 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please click on the button on the right side of the page for more information about the challenge or to locate others participating — there are more than 1600!]

Previous A-to-Z posts:
2012: Good Gravy
2011: Gladly Beyond

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First Aid

edible arrangement of fruit

The appearance of a disease is swift as an arrow; its disappearance slow, like a thread.
~ Chinese Proverb

If you have followed this blog for a while, you might recall that 2011 was the year of the surgeon in our household. For the most part, we are healthy folk, not without issues and problems, but reasonably, the majority of the time, at any given point, healthy and happy. In 2011, I learned how quickly that can change. January of that year brought a double retinal hemorrhage for my husband, followed by laser surgery and multiple injections of antibiotics into his eye. Yes — INTO. HIS. EYE.

*allowing time for you to stop quivering at the very thought — and yes, indeed, he is very brave*

In April that year was my encounter with a glass dish at Easter, severing both tendons in the ring finger on my right hand. Two surgeries and several months of physical therapy followed.

But then we were done – or so we thought. Now I’m beginning to be convinced that either Virginia does not like us very much or that getting old really sucks. Like really sucks. We moved here in August and since then, my husband has been hospitalized twice and has amassed a medical team larger than I ever imagined.

Evidently it was my turn again over the weekend. Saturday – F day for the A-to-Z challenge – found me seeking first aid. In the doctor’s office and then the ER. Followed by surgery. Not major surgery, but general anesthesia, knock-you-out-for-real, guess what you have a new doctor surgery. I’m fine, back at work, and only slightly nauseous and sleepy (and, if you ask others, probably grumpy, too). But dang it all — seriously? The pain is gone, which is good. By then I didn’t mind the various sticks, pokes, prods, and general public display that is medical care. I just wanted to feel better.

We’ll see how that goes.

[This post is #6 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please click on the button on the right side of the page for more information about the challenge or to locate others participating — there are more than 1600!]

Previous A-to-Z posts:
2012: Front Row Living
2013: Farm Girl Meets Farmville

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Monday Moments: Sliced Bread

sliced bread

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~ John Muir

“Better than sliced bread……”

Now that’s a phrase I hadn’t heard in a while. Walking across campus this past week, I passed a group taking a tour, that phrase left hanging in the floating air behind their push onward to see more buildings. It’s a funny little phrase, so deceptively simple, conjuring up some strange historical moment when people were in awe of that newfangled item of pre-sliced bread.

In the weeks since the new year, my husband was back in the hospital again, bent on discovering our new town via the medical community it seems. He’s home and doing better, on the mend again. But after sitting through another round of late dark nights in a hospital room, listening to the sounds of breathing in the middle of the night, to cries of “Help me” from faceless voices down the hall, to the opening chorus of a Bach minuet that the hospital plays each time a baby is born, I was intimately reminded of the fragility of moments.

In the rush of each day, each meeting, hour, minute, breath, I often forget that they are once in a lifetime moments. No matter how many meetings, or breaths, or days I have, each is unique, each is history the moment after it happens. And when I forget that, when I lose myself into the hustle and bustle instead of being aware of it, I lose a connection to myself, one that I crave and need and rely on to get me through every other part of what I do.

So this weekend, I took time to reconnect, to settle internally, in the best way I know how for me — cooking. More specifically this time, to bake bread. There’s just something magic in working dough, end over end, knead after knead, watching the rise of it, a living thing as the yeast works its magic. Nothing more healing that sitting down, arms slightly tired, and smelling freshly baking bread perfume the air. Nothing more satisfying than a newly-cut slice of warm from the oven bread, a dab of melting butter oozing into the crevices.

In that moment, all is good.

And I find it hard to discover much of anything better than sliced bread.

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Time Heals

me in the ER

In the ER, 23 April 2011

“Mishaps are like knives,
that either serve us or cut us,
as we grasp them by the blade or the handle.”
~ James Russell Lowell

I have grown to appreciate that quote during the past twelve months. I can hardly believe it has been a year since my “mishap”.

The photo over there was me, one year ago today — long around 10pm or so — in the emergency room. It was a Saturday night, the night before Easter as a matter of fact. I was baking a variety of things to take to the family dinner the next day. A double-chocolate bundt cake was in the oven; my wheat bread was completing its second rise. While I was waiting for the cake to finish the last few minutes of baking, I hopped on Facebook and updated my status about what a perfect day it all was.

You can read the details in my post from a few days after the accident. But in the course of just a few minutes, chaos erupted like the Pyrex glass pan that I shattered.

So here I am, exactly one year later. Two hand surgeries, three months (plus) off work to heal, eight months of physical therapy, a stunning total in medical bills, and a new appreciation for excellent health care and insurance.

It could have been far worse than simply slicing through both tendons in my right-hand ring finger. I could have lost the finger, or even just the use of it. I could have hit and damaged the nerves, which my hand surgeon still calls a miracle that I didn’t damage any permanently.

I had excellent care from a phenomenal surgical team and hand tendon specialists managing my physical therapy. They quickly became a part of my daily life, and I owe my recovery to their care.

I had incredible support from family and friends. For all those that drove me and my husband to and fro, made dinners and brought food and entertainment, who sat with us, laughed and cried with us, and were simply there whenever we needed something, and even when we didn’t, there are no words to capture the depth of my thanks. There is, literally, no way we could have survived without each of you.

One year later, time has healed. Not perfectly, not as much as I would like, but more than I thought during those frenetic minutes and long hours sitting in the ER wondering what was coming.

And to those who shared the journey with me, whether near or far, in word, deed, or prayer, I once again say “Thank you!”

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. ~ Jean Baptiste Massieu

[Note: This post is #20 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button at the right of the page for more information.]

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